RCMP Admits to Using Cellphone-Tracking Machines Called ‘IMSI Catchers’

The RCMP has admitted it possesses a controversial high-tech spy device that allowed it to track cellphone data in 19 criminal investigations last year.

RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam tells the CBC that the force owns 10 of the mobile device identifier tools, which can gather high-level data about a phone’s location. This is believed to be the first official public acknowledgment by the RCMP that they use these devices to collect such information.

Adams says the RCMP’s devices do not capture private communications, in keeping with department policy. He called the technology a very important investigative tool, however, he would not identify the model of the device.

The report notes that someone in downtown Ottawa has been using a device known as an “IMSI catcher,” which can intercept and identify cellphone metadata. The CBC report found the device being used in recent months in close proximity to Parliament Hill and the U.S. and Israeli embassies

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and CSIS director Michel Coulombe both confirmed that their agencies were not involved.